TIMB blitz exposes rogue tobacco buyers
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) has pulled its weight in an aggressive blitz by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) to expose dishonest middlemen who have stolen their money from desperate communal farmers.
The middlemen at the heart of the boom in the illegal tobacco trade would go to farms offering extremely low prices to producers to whom they promise immediate payment.
Reports indicate that middlemen have worked with some tobacco auction house agents who help them sell gold leaf at huge margins.
Most of Zimbabwe’s tobacco is produced by poorly funded small communal farmers who desperately need cash for their daily needs and are easily tempted by the prospect of quick cash payments.
However, over 95% of the tobacco they sell in a practice known as “parallel marketing” is believed to have been grown under contract with registered financiers.
ZCFU President Shadreck Makombe said News that punishing secondary sellers would bring sanity to the tobacco industry.
“We are very happy with this TIMB initiative,” said Makombe.
“By removing parallel marketing, we are introducing business ethics. We are now doing business on a professional basis, which is a good development. Even investors will start to have confidence when they want to invest their money. They know it’s safe, ”Makombe said.
“This initiative is noble. We encourage farmers not to be seduced by unscrupulous buyers. If they are continually arrested and sanctioned in this way, parallel marketing can be limited and probably completely eliminated, ”he added.
The TIMB recently exposed the blitz, claiming it had previously convicted and fined 85 dishonest dealers.
A senior TIMB official said the blitz was part of ongoing efforts to eliminate bogus tobacco vendors.
“For the 2021 tobacco marketing season, TIMB has embarked on an exercise to name and shame illegal tobacco buyers and sellers,” TIMB spokesperson Chelesani Moyo said.
“The purpose of this exercise is to discourage repeat offenses and deter potential illegal buyers and sellers. To date, 85 illegal buyers and sellers have been fined. “
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